After leaving Boston to move to Berlin, I was barely in Germany for 18 hours before we got in a cab bound for the airport. We planned a trip to Paris, France, to officially kick-off our new chapter as Europeans.
Stay tuned, because this is only the first of many trips to come. We are currently looking for recommendations for Christmas markets and spring travel — comment below!
Is a Weekend Enough Time?
In my opinion, Paris is a city you can see enough of over a 3-day weekend. However, this depends on where you are traveling from. If you are traveling from the other side of the world — or even Boston — consider staying longer to account for the time your spent traveling there.
It was a quick flight to Paris from Berlin. We got there on Friday evening — just in time for a late dinner, post-dinner stroll, and then a good night’s rest in our hotel. Our flight back home was on Monday in the late afternoon, giving us from breakfast time to lunch time to explore.
Where to Stay in Paris
Before you decide where to stay, imagine your perfect Paris vacation. Do you want to see all of the sites with ease? Is getting to tourist attractions early to avoid (long) lines important to you? If so, consider staying as close to the city center as possible. Do you want to immerse yourself in Parisian culture? Do you picture yourself sippin’ on an Americano outside the cafe in a trendy neighborhood as you watch the well-dressed locals stroll by? If so, consider staying a little outside the city center. Same goes for if you want to experience a little of both — tourist attractions and local life.
We usually consider AirBnBs for longer stays or if we don’t want to spend a lot of money on food. An AirBnB gives us the option to cook breakfast, lunch or dinner at home. It also gives me a chance to grocery shop out of my comfort zone — something I find entertaining. On this trip, we stayed in Hotel Edgar. We knew we would be out exploring all day — stopping back only for pre-dinner naps. The hotel was unique and nestled into a cool part of the city.
How To Get Around In Paris
The city’s metro system is top-notch. No matter where you stay, you are only a short ride away from where you might want to go. We took the train (plus, one bus) to-and-from the airport. The basic Metro ticket is a small piece of card stock paper with a magnetic strip. Purchase it (in your preferred language) at a train station kiosk. It costs €1,90 (more if you go to the airport). Stick it in as you go through the turn style, then grab it and keep it safe as you ride. At some stations, you need the ticket to exit as well. Note: Yes, you can use your credit card at these Metro ticket kiosks.
The Metro isn’t the only way to get around Paris. As many of you know, my preferred method of travel while exploring a new city is by foot. It allows me to look up, look down, and take everything in at a digestible speed. Paris is small enough to feel comfortable walking from one site to another as long as you’re wearing comfortable shoes.
Cabs are bountiful, but on the more expensive side. If you dare, rent a bike or motorbike and ride around with locals in the busy city traffic. I was hesitant because Paris is not the most bike-friendly city I’ve been to.
Where to Eat in Paris
We were warned that we’d eat a lot of bread and sweets in Paris. To balance this and avoid a sugar crash, we walked just about everywhere and drank water every time we stopped.
Our first meal in Paris was… drumroll please… Japanese food. We always research the best/most-authentic/trendy Japanese restaurants in a city before traveling. At Kintaro, I got a vegetable-heavy noodle dish while Ryo got classic katsudon.
Here are the other places we ate at over the weekend:
Saturday: Cappuccino at Matamata Coffee, pastries at Claus, falafel at Chez Hanna, a crepe to share at Breizh Café, chocolate at Jacques Genin and dinner at La Cométe (after being discouraged by the long line at Le Bouillon Chartier, a restaurant know for cheap-but-good, classic French dishes). We did a lot of walking this day, I swear all of the food was needed.
Sunday: In Paris, a lot of restaurants and shops are closed or have modified hours on Sunday and Monday. Do some research before you depend on a business being open. For breakfast on Sunday, I really wanted to try Ob-La-Di, a spot that came highly recommended by friends, bloggers and blogger friends. Later in the day, we ended up at The Smiths Bakery for a quick snack before grabbing a bowl of ramen at Kodawari Ramen. I loved Kodawari Ramen because the upstairs where we were seated was furnished like a Japanese home all the way down to the strategically placed slippers. For dinner, we met a friend for a quick bite at Le Mary Celeste — a place known for it’s cocktails — before heading to the Logic concert at Bataclan.
Monday: Monday was a shorter day for us. We got up and headed to the Pigalle neighborhood. Our destination was a cool basketball court… but first breakfast at Buvette. After exploring, we grabbed macarons (finally!) at Christophe Roussel before heading back to the hotel for our bags.
What to See/Do in Paris
Check Facebook, ticket sites, and the web for events happening in Paris during your stay. See a concert, show, or movie. Experience a holiday, festival, or fun market.
Here is how we grouped our activities together during our October stay:
Friday: We didn’t have a lot of time this night. We checked into our hotel, got dinner, then walked over the Musée du Louvre. We got a great view of it at night, plus a glance at the Eiffel Tower. It was a dream come true for this girl.
Saturday: Saturday was the warmer, sunnier day, so we got out on the earlier side. We grabbed coffee, a pastry, then headed straight to the Louvre. We only waited in line for 5-10 minutes and then spent about 2-3 hours inside. If you’ve heard one about the Louvre, you’ve probably heard that it’s huge. It could take days — even weeks — to explore if you wanted to see everything. I felt lost in there. After the Louvre, we to Le Marais and did some shopping (read: “window shopping”). There are a lot of cool boutiques, home goods stores, concept stores, and shoe stores in that neighborhood. After we got our fill of shopping, we ate chocolate and rested up for dinner.
Sunday: It was a rainy day, but we made the best of it. After breakfast at Ob-La-Di, we took the Metro to the Eiffel Tower. It was much bigger than the version I remember from Epcot in Disney World. What a dream to see this beaut in person.
After the Eiffel, I really wanted to go to the Catacombs. I dropped the ball on this one and didn’t reserve tickets ahead of time. Our jaws dropped in disbelief when we saw how long the line to get in was. It seemed to go on forever and ever. After that disappointment, we got back on the train and headed back towards the city center.
When we got off at Saint-Michel (Notre Dame), it was raining harder. We sought shelter in Shakespeare & Company and browsed the books… oh, and brushed shoulders with Emma Watson as she picked up a copy of Hilary Clinton’s new book (among others). We were a little starstruck and tried to “act cool.” Acting cool meant, not saying anything to her and deciding to buy books like she was.
After coming down from that high, we wandered into some boutique shops that happened to be open on Sundays. Next, we grabbed a pastry, eventually ate some ramen, and then went back to our hotel for a quick nap.
That night we went to the Logic concert after a light dinner with a friend. I highly suggest making time to see some kind of show in Paris if you’re into that kind of thing. The city — and it’s people — are energetic. Note: Late night eats are not plentiful on Sundays in Paris… even if it is only 10-10:30pm. Make sure you have chocolate treats in your hotel room.
Monday: Monday was a quick day for us. We got up, packed our bags, checked out, and headed towards the Pigalle neighborhood. We left our bags at the hotel so we didn’t have to roll them around all morning.
Breakfast was at Buvette, then we strolled around the corner to check out the colorful Pigalle Basketball court. Lucky for us, we witnessed a quick music video shoot among other photoshoots going on.
Finally, we made our way back to the hotel for our bags. On our walk to the train station, we stopped in a couple more stores and strolled through Rue Montorgueil one more time. The train to the airport was easy (40-minute ride with 1 stop).
Random Tips for Visiting Paris
- Be prepared to wait in line for pretty much everything. City of lights… city of lines.
- You can use your credit card almost everywhere (usually a €10 limit).
- You will get harassed by people trying to: 1. Put bracelets on your wrist, 2. Get you to sign some kind of paper, or 3. Sell you Eiffel Tower toys. Just ignore or say, “No, thanks.”
What are your favorite things to do in Paris? I plan to go back in the spring and would love more recommendations.